The “Steve Mcqueen’ Rolex Explorer II

Rolex explorer and explorer ll

Let’s take look at the Rolex Explorer and Explorer II, in celebration of the stunning Ref. 216570 Explorer II we currently have in store.

The Rolex Explorer is perhaps one of the most classic sports watches, which hasn’t been dramatically altered since the first model in 1953. It was inspired by knowledge gained by human adventure, and made with stainless steel to withstand extreme conditions. It is a ruggedly elegant watch and has been the popular choice of explorers since it was first introduced.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Fit for the Himalayas

The Rolex Explorer was a timepiece born from the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top in May 1953, both wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches. The first Rolex Explorer ref.6298 had a white dial, but was replaced by a black dial ref.6350 quite soon after.  The Explorer benefitted from all the technical knowledge gained during the Himalayan expeditions since the 1930’s. It needed to be an extremely rugged Oyster, with an all-steel bracelet and  new Twinlock winding crown with a double waterproofness system.


A few alterations have been made over the years. One visible change is the size of the watch, as the original had a diameter of 36mm. This would probably considered quite small today, and the latest Rolex Explorer ref. 214270 is 39mm. This Explorer retains Rolex’s 3132 Superlative Chronometer automatic movement. This is a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed by Rolex. It features a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers - perfect for shock in extreme conditions. The smooth bezel in 904L steel is robust yet stylish, and in perfect harmony with the Explorer’s iconic heritage.

Rolex Explorer II Steve McQueen Watch

The McQueen Rolex

The latest Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 looks just as stylish as the early models. On the black-dial version of the Rolex Explorer II, the black base of the hands blend with the dial, similar to the 1971 model. The Orange Hand Explorer II also has an interesting history. The Rolex Explorer Ref. 1655 shot to fame when it was thought to have been worn by one very famous man.  Steve Mcqueen may only have worn one once or twice, but the connection certainly stuck. The Explorer II aka "The McQueen Rolex” is highly sought after today due to its rarity.

Steve McQueen Rolex

This "Mcqueen" was introduced in 1971 and features either a 1570 or 1575 movement. When the Rolex Explorer 1655 was first marketed, the extra hour hand was a bright orange. In 1974, Rolex added a luminous circle and after 1975 the extra hour hand was red. Collectors still like to refer to this version as the “orange hand” Explorer. 


rolex explorer two